I am an artist, an author and an academic. My art works to express the love of the intricacies of life as “human” being. I hope that is allows us to connect.
I was born in California, very quickly my family moved to Colorado where I lived until I moved to Ireland in my late 50s. I earned a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art from the University of Colorado and for many years I was the art department for Lyons Jr Sr High School, Lyons, Colorado. My early career focused on images of life in the United States, using a variety of media, primarily prismacolor drawing and then later prismacolor and collage. My most notable work during this time was the Zappa Quilt that now hangs in the Biloxi Miss., Hardrock Café. That decade was peppered with one person shows through a coop gallery in Denver, CO and some highlights in the competitive exhibition environment, all of which, except for the Zaapa quilt, were fun but unremarkable.
Life then took me on other pathways, allowing me to dabble for years in digital media as the technology itself grew to become a true equivalent of what we could do “that hard way” with classical means. My attention was divided between the academic and creative as I wrote books, did research and built a business that supported Masters and Doctoral students as they earned their degrees.
Currently I relaunch my artistic career fascinated by the power of human transformation and the Tibetan idea that the circle can contain that what is true about inner and outer realities.
I live in a small village surrounded by the Celtic sea on the southern coast of Ireland. While I am Irish now I was born and lived in the United States until 18 years ago. To me, living by the sea is paradise, well worth the move half way around the world.
I have always been someone who pursued big dreams. My first major work was the Zappa Quilt, (which now hangs in a Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi Mississippi). You can hear more about that project on the video on this page.
The evolution of the human spirit, (with myself as the main guinea pig) has always driven my art. This was true even during the 30 years art went more of less underground while I honed the academic side of my life. which lead to research, four books, and a digital training company.
I try to connect cognitive, philosophical ideas with images. I’m fascinated by modern, open ended, spiritual ideals, blend with a nod to the Tibetan mandala. Can the totality of our entire existence be discussed within the boundaries of the circle? The collage-like processes within my work merge time and space in a single digital collage.
I was classically trained in almost all media at the University of Colorado, but really appreciate being able to explore ideas quickly because of digital tools such as Procreate. My dual passions for human transformation and the awe inspiring experience of evolutionary change, merged with the joy I have always felt when digital tools make some of the more tedious aspects of art much easier, merge in these current works.
The transformation series included flowers from my garden expressing the feminine, nurturing aspects of existence, cityscapes from the great world centers standing in for the chaos of the modern workload, people exercising trying to bridge the two, in landscapes that carry the seasons of our lives.
Other digital works include my oil paintings, dreawings and older collages, reshot and used as images in new digital work. Most are printed on canvas and then enhanced with paint. Merging digital work and paint allows me to do limited series in order to greatly reduce the price for the affordable art market.
I you connect with this work, find it inspiring, then likely you are someone who can identify with “Finding our Voice” or “Shedding our Limitations.” Whether it is through buying a canvas, or coming across one of the beach art pieces in Kinsale, my work aims to engender interest, introspection and a smile!
Tibetan’s believe that our spirit can be contained in the circle representing both our outer and inner life. This idea haunts me. So does the fact that our entire set of experiences are only bubbles in time, which, like waves on a shore, are quickly washed away.
The goal of my work is to build connections. For me life is about determining those connections, to ourselves, to others, to beauty, love and inspiration -These are the threads that cut across my entire oeuvre, both artistic and academic.
To achieve that goal and to facilitate the making of art fast enough to keep up with my ideas and curiosity I moved from drawings, to collage, then to oil overlayed on digital collage. Most images are finished as high-quality digital prints on canvas, overpainted in oil. I also experiment with other types of print, framed under glass. Most have hand drawn elements to augment and personalize the work.
Dr Alana James earned a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado in 1976. Her first major exhibitions were in the United States and centered around her “Panty Quilt” made for rock star Frank Zappa, premiering in 1983. She moved to Ireland in 2003 where she pursued her research into educational leadership in a digital age. Dr James is happy to merge these experiences in her art, focusing on life on two continents and across different contexts.
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